Clooney aids Obama campaign with Geneva fundraiser

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By JOHN HEILPRIN, Associated Press

GENEVA (AP) — George Clooney headlined a fundraiser Monday that took in more than a half-million dollars for President Barack Obama's re-election campaign, the second dinner this year where the actor has turned his A-list magnetism into political gold.

Clooney raised almost $15 million for Obama's campaign at Clooney's Los Angeles home in May. This time he turned to Geneva, the European hub of the United Nations and a global center for international organizations, governance and business, to pull in a more modest amount for the president's re-election effort.

Organizers said they had taken in at least $625,000 from U.S. donors for Obama's campaign, including many who were flying in to Geneva for the one-night event from around the world.

Americans Abroad for Obama, the event's sponsor, says on its Web site that guests are paying $15,000 per person to dine with Clooney, $5,000 for a photo with him and $1,000 to attend a reception before the dinner.

The event was being co-hosted by Geneva-based American lawyer Charles C. Adams Jr. and Matthew Barzun, Obama's campaign finance chairman. The gourmet dinner was being held at Adams' home in a historic part of the city overlooking Lake Geneva, where Adams held a previous fundraiser for Obama in 2008.

About 100 people were booked for the reception beforehand, also in the Old City, and 35 people were attending the private dinner at Adams' home that was prepared by Le Lion d'Or, an expensive restaurant in Cologny, one of Geneva's wealthiest areas.

Clooney arrived in Geneva from the villa where he typically spends time during the summer on northern Italy's Lake Como. Obama campaign officials in Washington confirmed the attendance figures but declined further comment.

The president has called the actor and director a good friend who tries to keep his distance so Obama won't be criticized for hanging out with Hollywood celebrities. In an interview with Entertainment Tonight earlier this month, Obama said he got to know Clooney through his work on Sudan when Obama was in the U.S. Senate. Clooney has led campaigns to end the conflict in Darfur, Sudan, and for more humanitarian aid for millions of people caught up in the fighting.

The Democratic president and Republican challenger Mitt Romney have both been aggressively hunting for campaign money overseas, seeking any advantage in a tight race that's expected to stay that way into the fall. Each has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars in this fashion, not including the sums raised overseas by both party committees, though it is just a fraction of the more than $300 million Obama has raised overall and the $155 million raised by Romney.

American citizens and green-card holders can legally donate regardless of where they live, subject to the $2,500-per-person contribution limit that applies to those living stateside. U.S. law bans foreigners from contributing to political campaigns. Campaigns, the parties and political committees are expected to review donors and reject any ineligible contributions.

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